Movers & Shakers: From The Woods to The Border
** Update: Sylvan Fire **
June 22 10 a.m.
EAGLE, Colo. – Firefighters today will continue working to keep the Sylvan Fire within a defined area as they strengthen firelines and incorporate natural barriers such as aspen stands and rocky areas.
Yesterday afternoon and evening the fire made a push to the south, putting up a large column of smoke as it burned in heavy timber. Retardant drops and natural barriers kept the fire from moving over Red Table Ridge and into the Fryingpan drainage. Keeping the fire north of Red Table Ridge continues to be a priority for firefighters today.
Firefighters will continue working off the powerline road to keep the fire from moving north and east. On the west flank, firefighters will tie natural features such as aspen stands and rocky areas with the old Gypsum Creek Road as they establish containment lines. Today is expected to be hot, dry and windy, so firefighters are anticipating another day of active fire behavior. The fire will produce a large amount of smoke again today as it burns through heavy timber.
The fire has grown to 2,630 acres with no containment estimate. The cause is under investigation but lightning is suspected. About 75 personnel are assigned to the fire along with a light and heavy helicopter. Air tankers are available as needed.
The White River National Forest has issued a closure order for the area around the Sylvan Fire. The latest information including closure maps is available HERE.
For the latest information about pre-evacuation or evacuation notices, visit www.ecemergency.org for Eagle County and www.pitkincounty.com for Pitkin County. For more information about wildfire smoke visit https://www.epa.gov/smoke-ready-toolbox-wildfires.
Pitts Appointed Deputy Forest Supervisor
As another staffing shift for the Forest Service is made public, this recent USFS announcement may be a bit more of a plus when it comes to keeping Leadville and Lake County forestry issues at the forefront of woodsy management. Earlier this week, Leadville Today received notification that Jim Pitts has been appointed as the new Deputy Forest and Grassland Supervisor effective June 7, 2021.
The name is not unfamiliar to Lake County, particularly with the Friends of Twin Lakes who worked closely with the forest manager during his interim stint representing the Leadville Ranger District. Pitts is a solid leader and good listener, helping the efforts of several projects in southern Lake County jump through the approval hurdles. It’s nice to know that the learning curve will not be so steep as the summer visitors and camping season is fully underway. Congrats, Jim. Now here’s the official press release from the USFS.
“I am truly grateful to have been selected for this position,” said Jim Pitts, deputy forest and grassland supervisor. “Serving the public and supporting the staff of the PSICC who work diligently to care for the land is the motivation for me to step into this position.”
Pitts previously served as the district ranger for the Salida Ranger District, Salida, Colo., and brings 27 years of experience to the position. Jim worked ardently with cooperating agencies and volunteers to help establish the goals of Envision Chaffee County to address wildfire risk and recreation management in Chaffee County. Before that, Jim worked as the district ranger for the Saguache Ranger District on the Rio Grande National Forest in Saguache, Colo.
Forest and Grassland Supervisor Diana M. Trujillo said “We are pleased to have Jim continue to lead in his new capacity on the PSICC. He brings a depth of knowledge and understanding of the landscape and our partners, cooperating agencies and volunteers who work alongside the Forest Service to care for the land and serve people.”
Pitts succeeds the previous Deputy Forest and Grassland Supervisor David Condit who took another federal position in November 2020. The focus of the deputy forest and grassland supervisor includes leading USFS specialists and engaging with partners and the public in national forest and grassland management.
The PSICC stretches from Central and Southeast Colorado to Southwest Kansas and includes eight Ranger Districts: Leadville, Salida, San Carlos, South Platte, South Park, Pikes Peak and Comanche in Colorado and Cimarron in Kansas.
Pitts Meets with Friends of Twin Lakes in 2018
Salazar Nominated Ambassador to Mexico
President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate former Secretary of the Interior and Senator from Colorado, Ken Salazar, to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Salazar represented Leadville and Lake County in Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, serving from 2005 until 2011. He knows Leadville and the Arkansas River Valley almost as well as he knows his native San Luis Valley.
“President Biden has made a terrific choice in nominating Ken Salazar as the next Ambassador to Mexico. Ken is a tremendous public servant with a strong record of bipartisanship in the United States Senate. He has always led with integrity, and I have great confidence in his ability to represent the United States. We, in Colorado, are proud of him and grateful for his service once again,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D).
“Ken Salazar is an exceptional leader who has served Colorado and our country at the highest levels. As ambassador to Mexico he will revitalize the relationship with a neighbor, ally, and one of our biggest trading partners,” said U.S. John Hickenlooper (D)
Salazar is a native Spanish speaker from the San Luis Valley, which was originally part of Mexico before Colorado became a state. Stay tuned for updates on the confirmation process. In the meantime, here’s a video share from LT’s sister news website – Saguache Today – in the San Luis Valley. It’s from the 2019 “State of The Basin Symposium.”
Salazar Speaks at Water Conference
To help the community learn about the current water situation, from threats to opportunities, the first Rio Grande “State of the Basin Symposium” was held on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 on the Adams State University campus. Saguache Today was there to cover the news and record some of the presentations. In this video, former US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar discusses “The Past and Future Fights to Protect the Water of the San Luis Valley”. Salazar also served as Colorado’s Attorney General and Senator.
Naming Advisory Board Update
Leadville Today readers may remember the story about the Geographic Naming Advisory Board (Board) that was established last August 2020 by Colorado Governor Jared Polis. While most of the following months were consumed by establishing policy and procedure, the Board is now addressing its first re-naming consideration.
These two are in San Miquel County (think Telluride). While there is nothing presently under consideration from Lake County, LT will be keeping an eye on the board’s recommendations. In the meantime, here’s the latest press release from the group.
The Colorado Department of Natural Resources announced the June meeting of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board (Board). The Board was established by Governor Jared Polis to evaluate proposals concerning name changes, new names, and name controversies of geographic features and certain public places in the State of Colorado and then making official recommendations to the Governor.
The June meeting will include board training, and continue it’s deliberative process on two renaming requests, U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) Case 5054 and 5055. Both involve renaming reservoirs in San Miguel County in Southwest Colorado.
- WHO: Members of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board
- WHAT: June meeting of the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board
- WHEN: Tuesday, June 22, 2021, 8 AM to 10 AM
- WHERE: Find zoom contact info at: https://dnr.colorado.gov/initiatives/colorado-geographic-naming-advisory-board
CMC Pres Appointed to CPW Chair
Earlier this month, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission voted to appoint Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser as the Commission Chair for a term until 2023. The Commission also elected Charles Garcia as Vice Chair and Luke Schafer as Secretary of the Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Hauser was appointed to the Commission in 2017, and currently serves on the Commission as the Vice Chair as a representative for outdoor recreation and utilization of parks. She will replace current Commission Chair Marvin McDaniel, whose term expires in July 2021.
Dr. Hauser is president and CEO of Colorado Mountain College, which includes 11 campus locations in the state’s north-central mountain region. CMC has been a leader in outdoor education for decades, offering dozens of degrees and programs in outdoor recreation leadership, sustainability studies, ecosystem science & management, avalanche science and ski area operations. Hauser, a resident of Garfield County, is an accomplished outdoorswoman and athlete committed to issues of access and equity.
June 2021 Meeting of Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission